To my understanding the use of drugs has always been classified intro three distinct categories, each of which is defined by their own set of principles, aims, and goals. Bear in mind these are my interpretations and not Oxford definitions. Here's a summary:
Recreational: The use of drugs in a recreational manner seems to be the most prominent topic regarding drug use. It is essentially to relax (a glass of wine, a small joint) or to have fun (stimulants, entactogens) or to get high, trip out, escape, or "get fucked up" (any of the above, including hallucinogens, opiates, and more). Recreational drug use is predominantly illegal and condoning such activity is sometimes seen in a very negative light. Nonetheless, it is the most popular form of drug use.
Medicinal: Second up, the use of drugs for medicinal purposes is a legitimate form of drug use as seen by those who make the laws - because if something is wrong, it needs to be fixed. It would be to treat anxiety (benzodiazepines) to treat pain (opiates) to treat depression, psychosis, or other mental disorders with each their own medication. Emerging onto this field is the medicinal use of marijuana, and one can find a large number of people on either extreme of this debate, and even more scattered throughout the spectrum with many undecided about where to draw the line.
Spiritual: Last in line is the least well understood and often ignored reason for drug use because there are small minorities which have their own set of laws protecting them and their spiritual use of drugs. I believe I understand correctly that the aim is to understand oneself, understand the world, and/or understand what God intentions are (or any combination) depending on the drug, the culture, and the religion in question.
I'd like to propose a fourth purpose of drug use. To enhance and improve human quality of life. I have yet to come up with a one word term to stick with the definition I propose, but maybe someone else can help in that regard.
Quality of life is a is a term that most often comes up in political discussions when human rights, healthcare, happiness, and other such topics are on the table. This fourth purpose of drug use might be considered a blend between recreational and medicinal, because something doesn't necessarily need to be wrong for one to be able to make it better. Examples:
1. You didn't sleep well, you wake up to an alarm clock, and you're tired. You pour yourself a cup of coffee and the caffeine in it is enough to give you the energy and focus you need to get the day going. (Yeah, I went there. There's better examples coming. )
2. You're stressed, you have a speech to give to a huge audience and you have to perform well. You take a therapeutic dose of a fast acting anxiolytic benzodiazepine to take the anxious edge off and do what you gotta do.
3. You had a rough day, there's a lot on your mind, but you really need your sleep because you have another long day ahead. You take a good dose of kava kava to improve your quality of sleep and reduce the sleep onset latency enough so that you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start your day.
4. You've been studying but just can no longer keep focus, you have an exam tomorrow afternoon and still a lot of reviewing to do. You take a small dose of MDPV, it inhibits the reuptake of just enough dopamine and norepinephrine to give you a 2 hour boost of mental clarity and focus to finish your review and get ready for the exam.
5. You had a great workout, you're into strength training and have high goals for your month long training plan - but you overdid it today. You take a moderate dose of Phenprobamate to relax the muscles and ease the tension, get a good sleep and rest up.
See where I'm going? In everyone one of the examples the individual could have "just dealt with it". But the first wouldn't get to work on time, the second wouldn't deliver an awesome speech, the third would wake up feeling tired, the fourth might not do as well on his exam, the and the fifth might not be ready to work out again the next day. None of these people could get these drugs prescribed because as doctors often say, these are just factors of daily life. The biggest issue lies in the fact that drugs can be used, but they can also be abused, and each person on their own has to be honest with themselves and determine if they've crossed that barely visible line.
So stay tuned for some new threads popping up, and tag them with the proposed tag: "improving quality of life". Let's see where this goes - but I hope we generate some insightful discussion on the topic described here, and slide away from the general topic of discussion that has dominated Drugs Forum - recreational drug use. Nothing wrong with the latter, but I'd like to see more of the former.